For once, force your brain to virtualize yourself standing freely beneath the pink sky, swinging your hands while simultaneously hearing the chirping of the birds and the cool breeze touching your face. You feel happy, relaxed, and assuming that the universe is emitting good and positive vibes for you. Indirectly right at this moment, you thought of something and fed it to your brain. You fed pleasant things to it, so it ended up making you feel ecstatic, or let’s say, vice-versa.
But what happens to you when you are in your own company, maybe sitting on a couch during the daylight or lying in bed at night trying to sleep? Why during the aloofness, you get deep ‘into your head’ or let your brain wander to the thousands of miles away in the future and virtualize the things that could potentially go wrong? As suggested by Dr. Lisa Firestone, co-author of “Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice”, Time spent alone in thought can be positive yet, getting ‘in our heads’ can also be dangerous when we are negatively turned against ourselves.” Further David Carbonell, a clinical psychologist and author of “The Worry Trick: How Your Brain Tricks You into Expecting the Worst and What You Can Do About It” suggested that, “Because we feel vulnerable about the future, we keep trying to solve problems in our head.”
Okay, but what triggers your mind to think? Maybe something that happened in the past or maybe something that is going to take place in the future, or maybe your insecurities. Dr. Jeffrey Huttman, a licensed psychologist and the executive director of The Palm Beach Institute in Florida, claims that overthinking is very common and may be caused by self-doubt; self-esteem issues; concern about repeating past patterns in relation to prior bad experiences; traumatic experiences; or anxiety.
Ask yourself, will overthinking bring you any solution or will it change anything that has already occurred? Thinking for a while is alright but thinking for too long for every little thing is a matter of problem as it becomes the habit and the loop from which coming out becomes a major task. Clinical psychologist Helen Odessky, the author of “Stop Anxiety from Stopping You” shares some insight that states, “So often people confuse overthinking with problem-solving. But what ends up happening is we just sort of go in a loop, we are not really solving a problem.” It leads to your loss of connection with the immediate world and everything around you and you find peace spending more time in your head as the loop becomes your habit, but the question is how long are you going to take it along with you?
You should know, it is the state of mind. It is the way you see things and feed your brain. Nevertheless, some are surely incapable of handling big things or major issues, but there can be strategies or stages to handle them. As rightly said by Martin Luther King, Jr., “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” And there you go…step by step.
Start saying some positive affirmations, basically self-affirmation to yourself as according to Lisa Legault, an assistant professor of psychology at Clarkson University, “Self-affirmation is the process of reminding yourself of the values and interests that constitute your true or core self.” “I breathe, I am collected, and I am calm”, “I am safe, and everything is good in my world”, “Inside me, I feel calm, and nobody can disturb this peacefulness”, “My anxiety does not control my life. I do”, “I believe in who I am” are some of the self-affirmations given by Caroline Rushforth, a mind-mastery coach and trainer. Once you start saying all of these to yourself, it becomes a habit, and eventually, you start believing it because what you think, is what happens to you.
Engage your-self in mindfulness activities and practice meditation as it can be a life-changing pill for overthinkers. Huttman says, “Meditation practice is the main mechanism to develop mindfulness.” Both, PsychAlive, a non-profit resource created by the Glendon Association and Huttman, a licensed psychologist recommended the book “Full Catastrophe Living” by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn for mindfulness-based stress reduction program(MBSR). Mindfulness exercises like Yoga, Tai Chi and Martial Arts support both psychological and physical health and develop an increased capacity for self-control as researched by Dr. Kimberly Bethany, fitness and wellness consultant.
Understand that overthinking will lead you nowhere. You might think it will bring you solutions but actually it will worsen up the things. Therefore, stop having monologues in your brain, stop the inner fight between ‘what ifs’ and ‘should hads’, stop assuming, stop weaving the web of thoughts and stop playing yourself as a victim. Hush the negatives and hush whatever is causing you the harm. And remember, in one’s life, there are two roads, a road of pessimism and a road of optimism, the latter being less travelled and also hard to follow but let’s not forget Robert Frost, how he took the road less travelled by and how it has made all the difference.